Cricket: Atherton demands one last big effort

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Mike Atherton has stressed to his England players the importance of winning the one-day international series against New Zealand which now completes a long hard winter.

Atherton does not want his side to make the same mistakes as in South Africa 12 months ago, and in Zimbabwe earlier on this tour. England began their five-match series with a day-night international in Christchurch in the early hours of this morning - and Atherton said: "It's a similar situation to a year ago. We performed creditably in the Tests against South Africa and then we had a disastrous end to that tour by losing the one-dayers 6-1.

"In Zimbabwe a couple of months ago we lost the one-day series 3-0 and played very poorly," the England captain added. "I think we need to stress to the players the importance of finishing on a high note in New Zealand, despite our Test series success, because if we don't do well in these one-day games then they will be people's last memories of this winter. I don't think this trip deserves that kind of send-off.

"I maintain that in the Tests we have played outstanding cricket at times, but our one-day performances have been a different matter and we must put that right over the next couple of weeks."

Phil Tufnell's alleged pot-smoking antics in a Christchurch bar took a new twist in the form of posters plastered all over town. The hastily- printed bills said: "Phil Tufnell must agree - Bardellis is Christchurch's Best Joint".

Tufnell, who strongly denied the allegations, did not play in today's one-day international, the left-arm spinner having been left out for purely tactical reasons.